Borussia Dortmund claimed the unofficial title of Bundesliga winter champions yesterday after a 2-1 win over Werder Bremen ensured they will be top of the table at the mid-season break.
Paco Alcacer and Marco Reus bagged the goals to send Dortmund nine points clear of Borussia Moenchengladbach and Bayern Munich with only two rounds of games remaining before the halfway point of the campaign.
Full backs Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba earlier flashed in fine goals to help Bayern continue their return to form with a 4-0 win at lowly Hanover.
Bayern in third now trail second-placed Gladbach just on goal difference after the injury-hit Foals could only manage a 0-0 draw at Hoffenheim. The hosts saw the better of the chances with Joelinton having an effort chalked off for offside.
Fortuna Dusseldorf jumped two places off the bottom thanks to a 2-0 win over Freiburg while Mario Gomez scored his first league goals since October as Stuttgart fought back for a 2-1 home win over Hertha Berlin. Schalke also battled back for a 1-1 draw at Augsburg.
Dortmund’s Bundesliga topscorer Alcacer has netted nine of his 11 goals from the bench this term but he started at home to Bremen and showed he is not just a “super sub”.
The Spain forward, who earlier hit the post, headed in Raphael Guerreiro’s free-kick on 20 minutes and the linesman’s offside flag was quickly overruled by the video assistant.
Captain Reus then swept in Jadon Sancho’s cutback before Max Kruse’s rocket 10 minutes before the break brought the visitors back into the game.
Kruse almost grabbed an equaliser early in the second period but was denied by a good stop from Roman Buerki. Bremen continued to push but Dortmund then took back control and closed out the win, with Mario Goetze’s late goal ruled out for offside by the video assistant.
Bayern coach Niko Kovac had looked in real trouble just a few weeks ago but three victories on the bounce have eased the pressure.
Kimmich, who had a role in all four goals, seemed to have nailed down the right back spot for both Bayern and Germany after years as a utility player but the 23-year-old has played in defensive midfield of late.
He reverted to right back in Hanover and soon profited with a controlled volley from the edge of the area after two minutes.
Left back Alaba soon matched his teammate when the Austria international blasted home from a similar distance on the half hour mark when Kimmich’s corner had only partly been cleared.
Kimmich was also involved in the third goal on 53 minutes, raiding down the right wing and setting up Serge Gnabry to score at the second attempt.
And it was Kimmich yet again who put in the cross for Robert Lewandowski to make it 4-0.
“We were always there in their faces,” Bayern forward Thomas Mueller, who had another good game, told Sky Sport. “I must say it was a top performance.”
Hanover slipped to bottom place, four points from absolute safety, after their ninth defeat in 15 games.
Dusseldorf took full advantage of Hanover’s hammering by climbing out of the automatic relegation places after Kaan Ayhan’s second-half double against lethargic visitors Freiburg.
Maximilian Mittelstaedt finished off a well-worked move for his first league goal to give Hertha the lead at Stuttgart although goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler could possibly have done better.
Former Germany striker Gomez then equalised with a typical poacher’s goal midway through the second period and powered in a header completely unmarked to complete the turnaround and nudge Stuttgart up to 15th.
* Hoffenheim 0 Borussia Moenchengladbach 0
* VfB Stuttgart 2 (Gomez 64, 76) Hertha Berlin 1 (Mittelstaedt 38)
* Augsburg 1 (Gregoritsch 13) Schalke 04 1 (Caligiuri 53)
* Hanover 0 Bayern Munich 4 (Kimmich 2, Alaba 29, Gnabry 53, Lewandowski 62)
* Fortuna Dusseldorf 2 (Ayhan 55, 79) SC Freiburg 0
* Borussia Dortmund (Alcacer 19, Reus 27) Werder Bremen (Kruse 35)
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